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Poll: Most Americans say tax dollars are wasted

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Counting down to tax deadline
  • Americans split on overall opinion of the country's tax system, poll says
  • Four in 10 questioned say they're angry about amount of taxes they pay
  • Quarter of all Americans think Internal Revenue Service should be abolished, poll finds

(CNN) -- Nearly three-quarters of Americans say that the government wastes their tax dollars, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Thursday also indicates that roughly half the public believes the tax system is unfair, and as a result, four in 10 say they're angry about the amount of taxes that they pay.

Seventy-four percent of people questioned say that a lot of their tax dollars are wasted by the government; 23 percent say that some of their tax dollars are misspent and three percent say that not much of their tax dollars are wasted.

Americans are split on their overall opinion of the country's tax system: 49 percent say it's fair and 50 percent say it's unfair, according to the poll.

Video: Geithner: 'Fairness' for taxpayers

"Six in 10 Democrats say that the tax system is fair," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Republicans are split down the middle, with 49 percent calling it fair and 51 percent thinking it is unfair."

Four in 10 questioned say that they are angry about the amount of taxes they pay; 36 percent say they're satisfied and just under one in four say they don't have particular feelings on the issue.

Nearly half of Republicans questioned say they're angry, but that figure drops to 44 percent among Independents and 29 percent among Democrats.

The poll indicates growing public frustration with taxes over the past couple of decades.

"This is a significantly higher level of anger than existed during the 1980s," Holland added. "In 1985, only 27 percent were angry about the amount of taxes they had to pay, possibly a reflection of the tax cuts that Ronald Reagan instituted in his first year in office."

However, it appears that Americans aren't taking their anger out on the Internal Revenue Service.

"Only a quarter of all Americans think that the Internal Revenue Service should be abolished," Holland said.

Six in 10 say that the tax cuts passed in 2001 under George W. Bush that are set to expire this year should be made permanent, according to the survey.

The poll was conducted April 9-11, with 1,008 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.